Jonathan Armour’s practice has long been interested in the metaphorical language of skin. Having worked with traditional fine art media including sculpture, paint and photography, he approached Leo to continue his experiments using 21st-century technology. For Leo, it was an exciting opportunity to explore the young language of computer-generated imagery, using it to access an ancient practice in an entirely contemporary way.
“Paint Skin uses 21st-century technology to give visio-haptic enjoyment of one of the oldest forms of art practised by humankind – painting on the body. Not only does it permanently capture the intense intuitive response in paint by the artist to the model, all of which is normally washed away at the end of the session, but allows the viewer to literally get under the skin of the painting.”
— Jonathan Armour
Image (above): Roy Joseph Butler painted by Jonathan Armour in the 3D scanning studio (photo: Jonathan Armour)
The collaboration began by developing Jonathan’s ambitions to capture his painted subjects as 3D scans, legacies of the transient body-painting process. As Jonathan developed the creative concept, Leo worked through the technical parameters for unpeeling the scanned bodies, preserving life-sized, pore-level detail. On the way, Leo introduced Jonathan to the mechanics of the digital process, which fertilised the aesthetic development.
The result was three life-sized prints, each with its own composition and installation designed by Jonathan to reflect the individual characters of the subjects: Roy, Kam and Martin.
For the next stage, Leo returned to the 3D scans, which captured surface detail as a hollow body shell. This allowed the project to move another step away from figurative representation, using unfamiliar perspectives to indulge in the rich textures and colours of the real painted body. Leo developed an animated virtual journey: an opportunity to integrate his knowledge of cinematography, lighting and digital techniques to immerse the viewer in the strange corporeal landscape.
The ambition was to use a consciously digital medium to explore the ancient art of body painting. By introducing techniques such as datamoshing and morphing, Leo found a style that was both hi-tech and painterly.
2015 Re:Defining Beauty, Leyden Gallery, London.
2015 Artlicks, Hotel Elephant, London.
2015 1 plus 3 skins, City & Guilds Art School, London.